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Drake Makes His Claim For The Throne With ‘Nothing Was The Same’

Drake is ready to tell his story again. In the beginning of his career, the rapper/singer/actor was on the verge of rap stardom off the foundation he built from 2009’s So Far Gone, and he returned to the topic of fame again and again, seemingly obsessed with finding his place in the rap world. Two albums later, the 26-year-old Toronto native leaves little room for debate: Like it or not, he’s the new voice of a generation with a mission to stay ahead of the curve. His appeal comes from owning various lanes—whether you’re a fan of his soul-baring lyrics or his confidence, there’s a Drake for you—but the fact remains Drizzy’s moment is now. He’s made anthems for people to live by (“The Motto,” “No New Friends,” “Started From The Bottom”) and managed to keep his name in the conversation after a summer filled with albums from J. Cole, Mac Miller, Kanye West and Jay Z. Although the ascent of Kendrick Lamar, Drake’s fiercest competition, has been undeniable this year, the OVO general has left little room at the top. Consistently, he’s delivered a number of hit records, dropped hot guest verses and sold big numbers for his albums. With the throne for the taking, Drake wants to claim what he views as rightfully his with Nothing Was The Same.

Drake sets the bar high with his album opener, “Tuscan Leather.” The song kicks off with “Comin’ off the last record, I’m getting’ 20 million off the record/Just to off these records, nigga that’s a record.” The statement confirms a more aggressive Drake, puffing up his chest more often than not to show his authority. “I’m tired of hearin’ ‘bout who you checkin’ for now/Just give it time, we’ll see who’s still around a decade from now,” he boasts later on the Whitney Houston-sampling intro. This approach is indicative of Drake’s evolving formula: a comfortable balance between self-reflection and self-promotion. On previously released non-album tracks like “5 AM In Toronto,” he fired on all cylinders with menacing rhymes, and here he stays on the same course. With six minutes spent over three different instrumentals on the intro, Drizzy sets the tone for an album that focuses on his larger ambitions (“On a mission trying to shift the culture”) and his acceptance of mega fame (“I’m just as famous as my mentor/But that’s still the boss don’t get sent for”).

But Drake’s competitiveness is only one piece of the puzzle. Another part of Nothing Was The Same is his willingness to share his insecurities with a global audience. More than ever, the record is filled with narratives of former flames, betrayed lovers, strained relationships and tales of living in the moment all presented through Drake’s knowing eye. Once again taking cues from Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, Drizzy goes half-tender and half-tense for mass consumption. On “Worst Behaviour,” he reminds us why muthafuckas never loved him, while he flips the script on the Jhene Aiko-assisted “From Time,” talking about reconnecting with his father. These reflections are direct, capturing his conflicting emotions, growing anxiety and personal growth. It continues on the Sampha-featuring ballad “Too Much,” which finds Drake confessing his troubles over a lithe, moody beat. “Hate the fact my mom cooped up in her apartment, telling herself/That she’s too sick to get dressed up and go do shit, like that’s true shit.” Drake still can paint revealing portraits, even when he’s in a different space creatively.

Drake isn’t the only star of the album, as he’s paired again with Noah “40” Shebib who produced the bulk of the record. Drizzy and 40 continue to develop their soundscapes, stripping away some of the excesses of Thank Me Later and Take Care to find an even chillier, more emotionally potent sound. The backdrops are carefully thought-out and blur the lines of genre, paying homage to hip-hop classics while still nodding to other genres like disco, soft-rock and quiet-storm. When Drake is utilizing both rapping and singing (a staple of his), the melodies are tighter, almost blending him into the luscious beats presented on the album. The most notable example is “Wu-Tang Forever,” which flips the Wu’s “It’s Yourz” into a brooding song over stark pianos and a deep bass. Later, the track transitions into “Own It,” which showcases the pair’s knack for picking the right combination of sounds that flow flawlessly. 40 on Martin Scorsese, for real.

The most obvious question is if Drake has a contender for album of the year here. It’s apparent throughout the record that Drake thinks Nothing Was The Same is so good that none of his contemporaries can best him. Drake wants to hold the spot as an innovator, and his signature style is grasping onto newer territories every day, influencing artists in the rap world and beyond. With the themes, moods and issues displayed here, Drizzy has shared another moment of his life, and now the only thing left to prove is if his crossover powers can last him a decade from now. Until that moment arrives, we’ll be waiting on it. Eric Diep

  • gunboundOG

    everything gets a XL nowadays, weak ass review

    • Eric Diep

      What would have you given it?

      • gunboundOG

        A Large, the lyrics were not an XL it was a L at best and the originality is a Large too

    • dat_pancake

      everything cept Born Sinner

  • Tony Pattawon

    He can get the throne for rap if his album is R&B…. its more singing than rapping that being said no he cant get no crown… when he finally stop neglecting his day one fans for women and give us a actual rap album than he can talk about thrones

    • 2012Industry1

      What about Lauryn Hill….and percentage wise that’s not true! When he raps, he snaps! Why cats keep talking about Rap Albums they not gonna buy!

    • Meezus

      Dude, Most of the album is rap. What are you talking about? You must didnt listen, you’re probably going off what you think the album is like.

  • Ross S

    XXL just hypes the big names regardless…its smart though so they can get the interviews and love from the biggest names and keep their publication at the top

    • Zino

      ………

    • popeye crunk

      say that shit bruh

  • BrianRaider

    Great Review Eric!!! You Got It!!! I Love This LP! Drake Been On!!! I’m Stuck On The Outro To Furthest Thing! So Far… Album Of The Year, I Would Say This & Magna Carta! This Is Great Hip Hop! & Great For Hip Hop!!! I Love XXL’s Reviews!

  • Zontray Harris

    If you actually heard the album its amazing its nothing but rap four features two really R&B and i’ve been there since Room for Improvement and Comeback Season when he was rapping with Nickelus F. most his songs was exactly what he said before “drake featuring drake”.

  • Peso

    besides the 3 emo, singing tracks the album is really dope. for some reason dude can pull of that singing sh*t most of the time, hooks be catchy as hell to. Kanye is one of the reasosn why I like Drake so much because ‘Ye with 808 & Heartbreak opened me up to sh*t I would have said was wack in my younger years when listening to hip-hop. Drake is going to last because he’s a real recording artist with real talent and ear for music and you can’t hate on that.

  • twobasedcartel

    drake is garbage

  • Slim Joe

    Albums dope i dgaf what you think

  • Ka Kid1

    Good album 4 fall…..homie got down on this wrth my $ fav trac #7

  • Harry Miller_93

    album of the year.

    • DoubleClutch95

      My Name is My Name!!!

      • Coolcat86

        ^^^Probably Pusha T

      • CJ

        I doubt it will be as good but i think the album will deserve to be in the discussion

      • Meezus

        No bruh..

    • popeye crunk

      i see your avi >> dickrider of the year

    • BANGBANG

      no. Tech Nine, J Cole and Ghostface all put out fire

    • Jermaine Jones

      #MMLP2

    • Geld

      LOL, Mostly singing, no lyrical content worth thinking about, and he doesn’t stop talking about how much money he has, and I don’t mind listening to him!

    • Mary Mary Why You Buggin’

      For album of the year, I think we really should be considering KA’s “The Night’s Gambit” & Ghostface Killah’s “Twelve Reasons To Die.”

      Not to take anything away from Drake. But when listening to “Nothing Was The Same” & “The Night’s Gambit,” the latter wins.

  • S.I.K.

    Album is a dud. Deserves an L in every category. Huge letdown.

    • G to the E

      agreed

  • James Branley

    Did anyone else think this was his weakest rapping performance? He rapped a lot, but there was never a verse that left me saying “Damn” like HYFR or Trust Issues did.

    • Ronald Jack

      Naw I thought the rapping was good. I just didn’t like that you had to listen to half a song of him singing to get to it.

    • ThatGuy

      I only felt like he snapped on Pound Cake and Tuscan Leather. Other than that… his raps were super repetitive and kinda lackluster

  • Baggins

    for those that don’t think Drake elevated it to a new level and deserved an XXL, you probably think Weezy is still good

    • popeye crunk

      drake never gonna make a classic

  • TELL THE WORLD MY NAME

    BEATS ARE RATED WAY TOO HIGH…
    40′S PRODUCTION WAS REALLY BLAND & REPETITIVE….
    ORIGINALITY/LYRICS? TOO MANY NARRATIVES ABOUT STRESSING PUSSY.
    I’M ACTUALLY A FAN OF THIS PUNK, BUT THIS WAS DISAPPOINTING..

    • Zander

      The beats were bland and repetitive? Just the intro itself had three different instrumentals of differing tempos and moods.

  • Ashton Robinson

    I’m not the biggest Drake, but I can honestly say this is a pretty damn good album. I just wish he would give me more of that boom-bap like the second beat on “Tuscan Leather” now that beat was crazy! XXL rated the beats too high, It’s a XL at best not a XXL.

  • Felipe

    I thought this album was gonna be trash, as i figured itd be songs like hold on im coming home but i was surprised that it was pretty good. Drake singing his own hooks aint bad, its when he tries to sing a whole song that i change the track and thankfully he keeps it to a minimum. the beats are darker and deeper than the last two albums and drake’s lyrical ability gets better and better, no more of that big sean flow type verses, and one thing ive always propped drake for was that he keeps his shit real. overall strong album, xl rating deserved

  • loyal_ethics

    album of the year is Ghost face killer and Adrian young’s “Twelve Reasons To Die”

  • Meezus

    Album is beast. Simple as that.

  • q

    there are 3 tracks on this worth listening: All Me, Language, Too Much. The rest is mediocrity.

    • Sean Sucks D

      All Me? Hahaha, Big Sean is complete trash.

  • Sonika Davis

    Take Care was an XL, this is a L

  • Lem

    so is this really good or..? tell me niggas

  • Ramon Rojo

    Drake is a corny guy Tuscan Leather was the only good song on the album

  • mack diller

    Dear Eric Diep,
    Were you drunk writing this review? How old are you 15 years? Drake sounds like lil wayne, has no style by himself, etc. You saying he is making a claim for the throne???? Did you ever listen to real hiphop? Or do you only listen to bullshit artists like: 2chainz, big sean, gucci mane, nicki minaij?
    drake is garbage and so is this reviw

    • Marvin

      You sound like a dumb fuck. Calling any type of music ‘real’ to separate it from something else is ignorant.

  • Connor Ray Nix

    I’ll still be bumpin Take Care instead….

  • BANGBANG

    great pop album, bland rap album. candy ass beats and sub par punchlines. nothing that we havent heard before

  • finisherz

    I took a listen to the album not being a fan but wanted to hear what this kid is about and im confused he sings with a little touch of rap,the damn album is R&B so why call him a rapper Chris brown is the same as drake he a singer that can rap too..All said and done drake is trash and soft niggaz like him go head soft niggaz get upset because you a fan of a corny R&B nigga that makes music for FAGZ and GIRLS!!!!

  • Pretty Boy (Phd)

    how r the beats on this better than danny browns album?

  • Andrae B

    To be honest, it was alright. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good neither. The lyrics were very repetitive. He was still talking about his past relationships, how much money he gets, going to clubs, taking over the game and the OVO posse. The devices he used such as metaphors and wordplay were strong at times but were weak and ineffective for the most part. From Time and Too Much were the only tracks I felt he did an excellent job lyrically and was being real and candid about himself. Most (emphasis on most) of the production was dope (especially Wu-Tang Forever). Originality-wise, I like the changes in tempos of the beats and the features. I think he was singing a bit too much which made parts of the album boring. I still feel that Take Care is Drake’s best album to date. I would appreciate if i didn’t get any butt-hurt comments saying that i’m a hater. If you guys loved, that’s great. I listened to the album OVER 4 TIMES. Overall, it was decent but it could have been better. This album also made reconsider my thoughts about Drake as an artist. I gotta admit he is improving but he still needs to fix a few things. My rating: L Overall Lyrics=L Production=XL Originality=L Best track- Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2 Worst track- 305 to My City

    • Andrae B

      *EDITS*
      *Take Care was better. edit to sentence …was his best album.
      * This album also made me reconsider my thoughts on Drake as a artist.

  • Tameeka

    It’s okay, but I feel he needed to proceed TaKe Care w/ another direction. Even after Kendrick & Big Sean taking jabs, he needed to shut em down seriously. That softness is getting old, and that’s coming from a fan.

  • vanchi

    lmao haters like a bitch yall nigas hating probably bumpin that shit rite now